Role of Media in Modern Warfare

Wars have been fought since the dawn of man. Man has fought for food, resources, land, women, in the name of countless Deities, revenge, freedom, independence and the list goes on. The two most devastating wars-World War I and World War II- was fought in an age where it took a while for different mediums (pictures, newspapers and news clips) to the doorstep /theatre near the viewers. The Vietnam War brought the daily war report at 6.30pm to every television sets in the US and by Operation Desert Shield and Storm, viewers saw war updates every 6 hours. The attacks on September 11th 2001 brought a whole new angle and coverage of the attacks like never before. Most people who were watching the coverage after the AA flight 11 attacked the North Tower proceeding to watch live footage of UA flight 175 striking the South Tower. Living in Kuwait in 2001, I vividly remember coming home around 4.45pm (local time) to turn on the news (daily routine for me) to watch the horror. Like me, millions of Americans and probably millions across the world were glued to their television for hours.

Coverage of Operation Enduring Freedom (invasion of Afghanistan) were limited similarly to the coverage of Operation Desert Storm mainly because the location of Afghanistan and limited use of embedded reporters with U.S. and NATO soldiers.

That all changed in 2003. By March 19th 2003, the invasion of Iraq (operation Iraq Freedom) loomed. Various news outlets had embedded reporters along with their live broadcast crew with American and British forces and a few were send to various regions of Iraq prior to the war. It started off with the live coverage of B-52s taking off from a jointed USAF/RAF base near London and eight hours later on March 21st, the skies of Baghdad light up and thus began the commencement of “shock and awe”. As bombs and cruise missiles struck their targets in and around Baghdad, they were being live broadcasted around the globe. The ground invasion began, viewers around the globe often caught a glimpse of a live armored invasion all the way to Baghdad. They also watched live events of Iraqi civilians going through their daily lives as battles were being fought nearby and the take down of Saddam Hussein’s statue near Firdos Square in downtown Baghdad.  Another live coverage of a war (embedded reporters with the Israeli ground forces along with live feed of the bombing of Beirut) took place in July of 2006 when Israel invaded Southern Lebanon in retaliation of a non state actor group-Hezbollah-for their cross border attack.

Here are some videos of live coverage of OIF.


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